A Calderdale woman, who cared for her vulnerable father, has been found guilty of fraud by abuse of position, for over-claiming wages from her father’s Direct Payments.
Following a trial at Bradford Crown Court, Sarah Jane Garbutt from Todmorden, was sentenced to a Community Order of 12 months and 120 hours of unpaid work, after admitting to claiming more money than she was entitled to from her father’s account.
The abuse was discovered during a routine audit by the Council, where a substantial amount of money was found to be missing from the Direct Payment account of a vulnerable service user.
Following a thorough Council investigation, it was found that the Personal Assistant to the vulnerable service user, who was also his daughter, had been claiming additional wages from the account.
Sarah Jane Garbutt was interviewed under caution and admitted to claiming the additional money. She was able to do this initially by writing her own amount on the cheques her father would sign and later, as payment methods changed, by using his log on for telephone banking.
Although she had been his carer for many years, this fraudulent behaviour began in April 2016, and she was able to claim over £20,000 of additional wages before the deceit was uncovered in June 2018. A payment plan is in place to recover this money.
Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Resources, Cllr Jane Scullion, said:
“We take any kind of fraud very seriously and have robust procedures in place to ensure we can detect abuse of payments or benefits.
“I’m pleased that we were able to bring this case to court and successfully prosecute this individual. Cases like this one demonstrate that we won’t tolerate fraud and should act as a warning to others who may be tempted to commit this deceitful crime.”
Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Adults’ Services and Wellbeing, Cllr Bob Metcalfe, said:
“This is a very sad case, where a personal assistant in a particular position of trust has abused that position for their own benefit.
“The money provided through Direct Payments is for the care of some of our most vulnerable residents and it’s vital that it’s used for its intended purpose.”